Wanted: foreigners between 30 and 40 years old willing to party in Ibiza in the name of combating the coronavirus pandemic.
Spanish officials on the island are working to assemble a squad of detectives who would be capable of infiltrating parties that breach local coronavirus regulations and flagging them to authorities.
The idea comes as the island, where the renowned nightlife and music scene has long drawn tourists from around the world, seeks to tackle a two-week Covid incidence rate that has soared to 1,814 cases per 100,000 of the population. With most nightclubs shuttered – except for those able to hold outdoor events where patrons are seated at all times – and gatherings in restaurants and bars limited to small groups, officials have blamed illegal parties for the spike in cases.
They have responded with an array of restrictions, from a ban on mixed-household gatherings between 1am and 6am to fines of up to €600,000 (£513,000) for those who organise illegal parties.
Even so, the parties have not stopped. “They’re not only an issue related to public order, which they have always been, but now they pose an obvious risk to people’s health,” a local official, Mariano Juan, told the newspaper Diario de Ibiza. “Police themselves say it’s difficult for them to infiltrate, as they are known to locals. So we have to look outside for help.”
The majority of these illicit parties are taking place in private homes and are promoted on social media or in tourist establishments, attracting a mix of tourists, locals and seasonal workers, he said. Their proliferation has overwhelmed police, who are struggling to keep up with their regular duties while also being tasked with cracking down on revellers.
Local officials are now in talks with a company that is studying how best to put together a team who can help police in detecting these parties, said Juan. “It is not easy as the profile we’re looking for are foreigners between 30 and 40 years old, but we have been working on it for two weeks.”
Nevertheless, he was confident that the initiative would advance quickly. “I have no doubt that it will be up and running this summer … It’s a necessity to safeguard the health situation in Ibiza.”
How effective the initiative will be is a matter of debate. The issue of police entering homes without a warrant has long been controversial in Spain, suggesting that security forces in Ibiza will have little margin to act even after illegal parties are brought to their attention.
The idea has also been heavily criticised by the Socialist party, which leads the regional administration covering Ibiza. A spokesperson, Vicent Torres, called on the island’s officials to put forth “serious proposals that have legal backing” rather than “acting irresponsibly by launching ideas that we cannot agree to”.